Speaking of Laura's new blog—or, more specifically, the content of her first post—if you haven't heard, Walden is being "right-sized" to 130 stores (down from around 330). Now, it'd be easy to go a little nuts and declare this another nail in the Borders coffin (for those not in the know, Borders owns Walden), but I don't think this is the case. Here's why:
· While I think decreased foot traffic through malls (vis-à-vis the recession) has been partly responsible for the decision, you have to realize that these stores have been on their way out for nearly a decade. Borders has been steadily reducing the Walden store count since 2001 in an effort to increase efficiency and profitability, and if pushing the count down to 130 stores helps them do this, then I encourage it—although I am sorry for anyone losing a job due to the restructuring. My good thoughts are with you (yes, I occasionally have good thoughts).
· Theoretically (and according to the company), this "right-sizing" will allow Borders to finally fully integrate Walden into their computer system, which will be a huge relief for everyone in the industry currently having to juggle the separate (and oft-incompatible) Borders and Walden systems. This alone will contribute considerably to increased efficiency in title (re)orders, getting titles listed in the computer system, and so on.
· Barnes & Noble is making a similar move with their B. Dalton mall stores, which indicates to me it's more of a "mall book store" problem than a chain-specific one. With the rise of e-books imminent and the current print-book market currently split between the the superstores, Amazon, mass merch retailers, and large independents, there's not much room left for the mall folks, and that limited space is shrinking fast. I'm not even sure I know anyone who buys books in a mall anymore.
What do you think?